2013 November – Want to be a better Manager? Ask for feedback!

WANT TO BE A BETTER MANAGER? ASK FOR FEEDACKWe all know that managing folks in IT is different. Most of them are introverts and tend to be quiet, and hard to read. Extroverted leaders, or leaders who are introverts in hiding, find these personality types especially challenging.If we are feeling threatened or challenged by another, it is a good bet that there is something going on inside you… and your buttons are being pushed. This blinds you to what is really going on.

To be a great IT manager or leader, you need to open your eyes to who you* are before you can clearly see, before you can know who your people are, and before you can figure out where you all fit best in your organization.

How do we find out who we are?

There are good ways and bad ways.

The bad way is to discover that you are in a room with someone who thinks that the problem lies anywhere but within themselves or with what they did.  Everyone else knows that that someone is an idiot, and the clueless person is simply making a fool of themselves.

Worse is to find out that this someone is you.

Never happened to you?   How do you know you haven’t been that fool?

A better way for finding out who you are and how you come across is by asking for feedback. But be ready, and be careful to know what you are asking for!

  • When you ask for someone’s opinion, be sure that you are prepared to hear the answer.
  • Are you asking for simple approval or head nod? If you need stroking already, the feedback will certainly push your buttons.
  • Be sure you are not asking for permission. The role reversal confuses your team.
  • If you get crushing silence, assume their opinion is NOT good. Dig deeper.
  • Invite mockery… a little sincere self-deprecation will go a long way here.
  • If you get mad or angry, don’t direct it at them. If you do that, you won’t ever hear from them again.
  • Give yourself some time to process before responding.
  • Look deep. Drop your guard. Is any part of the response true?
  • Get personal. Anonymous feedback doesn’t require trust.
  • Building trust might be the biggest benefit of asking for an opinion and acting on it.

Most of us are not ready to absorb and process really good feedback. Asking for it is hard, giving it is harder, and learning from it is difficult indeed. But it is essential if we are to know ourselves, and become better managers and leaders.

“There is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader,” says Anthony K. Tjan, author of Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck. “That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making.”

Contact me today and we can use your courageous heart, your smarts and your guts to enable you to ask for feedback and accept it graciously. You will become better for it.

Notable quotes:
“I don’t believe you can be an effective leader without emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Understanding yourself and your own limitations—what you’re good at, what you’re not good at—is critical.”
Dan Brodie, vice-president of technology, BuildDirect

“Self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses can net you the trust of others and increase your credibility—both of which will increase your leadership effectiveness.”
Chris Musslewhite,  Self Awareness and the Effective Leader, Inc. Magazine

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States

* I am an INFP myself**.  According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) INFP types are “Idealistic, loyal to their values and to people who are important to them. Want an external life that is congruent with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. Adaptable, flexible, and accepting unless a value is threatened.” Sounds like a coach to me!

** There are many personality tests, and your results will vary depending on which test you take.  Other tests show me as an INTJ—the classic engineering type. This variety in feedback can be confusing. The important bit is to take away the parts that ring true and think about them and how they impact your life.

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